Armed with a bag of peanut butter cups, experience gained from last year’s wild ride, and a fantastically supportive team, I am eager to get this year rolling so that I can see what works and what flops and build from there. Like many, my PD sessions were from home. From my dining room table, I revisited Kath Murdoch’s The Power of Inquiry and watched plenty of how-to tech videos, as well as made time for family walks and cuddles. It was nice to have the time to do so versus when we were in the thick of things last year with not much time to process.
I think it’s safe to say we all taught ourselves a lot of new tech in these months. I’m actually rather grateful for the like-it-or-not push that the world gave me to explore things I might have normally not explored in such depth or at all.
Looking back at last semester (btw, dying to know what everyone refers to it as), I see one of my weaknesses being juggling all the subjects when it came to feedback. I would get so caught up in, say, math comments —I mean, we are talking I would take the editing tools on Seesaw and work out the problem up to the point of error and have the students use this feedback to redo or I would ask specific probing questions to each individual student via Seesaw recording. While valuable for those students who actually went back and read the feedback,
it was exhausting work and barely sustainable. What would I do differently? I will have more small groups where I will meet with kids and give them live feedback and perhaps they will correct on the spot or on their own time. Either way…a better plan to preserve my sanity.
A strength I had was keeping the social-emotional piece alive with my students. Shoot, I can’t say I only did it for them, I was also greatly benefiting from connecting with them multiple times a week. We looked forward to seeing each other and, often, when a game we were playing was good or if we were deep into a conversation, the students would beg for more time. We shared a lot with each other during those times. Not every kid showed up, and some would pop in and pop out, some without mic or camera on, and I would sometimes make meeting times to be in the time zone of our one student in Europe. It wasn’t his jam, but I had one-on-one math lessons with him (and his mom!), so we connected. I also gave the kids surveys and shared documents to put their thinking.
I shared Flipgrid with my team as a suggestion of something we could use collaboratively across the grade and man, it took off like wildfire. We teachers would make videos of ourselves doing things like hand washing to our favorite songs, building an obstacle course in our homes, etc, and then have the kids share their videos. It’s another great way to connect.
You know what? The C that gets top billing from all of us this year will be or damn sure better be CARE. While this has always been my favorite C, it is more important than ever that this C is front and center in everything I do with the students both f2f and in my planning.
CLASS MANAGEMENT: I am happy to report that last semester I had no behavioral issues with kids being disruptive in class. Ok, I joke, but it is something I can tell people. Working in partnership with my IP about classroom expectations will be key. But this C also has to do with record keeping, so in my perfect world, I have a virtual folder or a real notebook divided into the various subjects where I keep my records task completions.
CLARIFY: I feel like I want to up my screencasting game. Will include more casts with my face, and also want to maybe include more eye-catching elements like animation techniques…I have a teenager, so I have a go-to person to help me make my ideas a reality. Feedback…as said before, I am going to make it more of an on-the-spot and Seesaw comment balance. Remind me that I said a balance.
CAPTIVATE: See animation techniques. Oh, that makes me think I also want sound effects! Boing! Or a groan, or a laugh track. Hmmm the mind’s racing. Get the kids interested in the ‘what’ so that they clamber to participate. We’ve all had those Bueller moments which we can learn from.
COLLABORATE: I feel that the Covid semester abroad really cemented our team’s collaboration skills. We met twice a week from the get-go and divided and conquered in pairs with regards to lesson planning. We are committed to doing that again this year. It feels great to share ideas.
Wishing everyone an engaging and enriching year. Go Dragons!